Friday, July 24, 2009

National Catholic Reporter "Arizona activist faces death threat"

National Catholic Reporter


Arizona activist faces death threat


By Demetria Martinez

Created Jul 15, 2009

Isabel Garcia, a Tucson, Ariz., attorney whose work on behalf of immigrants has earned her international acclaim, has received a death threat from an individual claiming to offer a half million dollars to anyone who might assassinate her.

Written in broken Spanish, the threat arrived by e-mail at the offices of Coalición de Derechos Humanos, or the Human Rights Coalition, in June. Garcia is the co-chair of the organization, which monitors the growing militarization of the border, tracks border patrol abuses, and promotes community education about rights when encountering law enforcement officials.

Written in broken Spanish, the unsigned e-mail warns Garcia, "We know where you live and we watch and follow you and your compatriots."

Death threats are nothing new to Garcia, but this one is particularly chilling: It arrived the same month that a break-away faction of the Minutemen, an armed, anti-immigrant vigilante group, murdered a Mexican-American father and his daughter in their home in the border town of Arivaca, Ariz. It also arrived shortly after the June 10 murder of a guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington by a rifle-wielding white supremacist — a reminder of the growing numbers of hate crimes taking place throughout the United States.

I had the privilege of working with Garcia as a member of Derechos Humanos in the 1990s when I lived in Tucson. Her passion for justice has made her a mentor to many. As one of the founders of the 15-year-old Derechos Humanos, she has helped build a formidable organization, privy to information about border militarization that the government has tried to keep from the public.

Her work has angered both anti-immigrant groups in the United States and the Mexican government.

In 2006, the Mexican government awarded Garcia its National Human Rights Award for her work as the Pima County Legal Defender; this was the first time the award went to a person not born in Mexico. Garcia requested five minutes to speak at the ceremony in Mexico: She was hoping to talk about the deaths of immigrants crossing the border into Arizona on foot — and about the complicity of President Felipe Calderon's government in its refusal to address the problem of economic justice. The Mexican government denied her request. She was later given the award with little fanfare in Tucson. Most recently, in 2008, the Lannan Foundation awarded her its Cultural Freedom Award.

According to Kat Rodriguez, coordinator of Derechos, there has been no response to date from the FBI, who was notified of the threat the day after it was received. When Rodriguez attempted to follow up, she was told that a customary five to seven business day waiting period was to be expected for "all complaints." When it was reiterated that this was a death threat, the FBI staff person asked, "Well, did they give a time frame?"

Rodriguez responded that the letter states that a half-million dollars has been offered for "Garcia's head," to which the staff person responded, "Well, I still think we should wait the five to seven business days." This conversation, explained Rodriguez, happened June 11, the day after the murder of the guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

To date, there has been no contact made by the FBI to either Garcia or the office of Derechos Humanos.

Meanwhile, Garcia continues to be in the spotlight because of her work with Derechos Humanos. The group's mission centers on bringing attention to the human cost of militarizing the U.S.-México border. Since the 1990s when border policies began to change and the numbers tracked, the remains of more than 5,000 men, women and children have been recovered on the U.S.-México border.

For more than five years, Derechos Humanos has compiled data on the human remains recovered on the Arizona-Sonora border, where more than half of all border crossing attempts are made. Data from the medical examiner shows that the remains of at least 29 individuals were recovered in June -- nearly one per day. Since Derechos Humanos began collecting data in 2002 -- that is when U.S. border policies shifted migration into the deadly and desolate Arizona desert -- the remains of at least 1,769 people have been recovered.

For more information and to see a complete list of recovered remains, visit [1]. Derechos Humanos considers this information the property of the community and encourages sharing the information about this tragic reality to anyone and everyone who will listen.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Immigrant Rights News - Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Immigrant Rights News – Wednesday, July 08, 2009


1. Washington Post: Task Force to Recommend Overhaul of U.S. Immigration System

2. Reuters: US Senate backs permanent immigration check program


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Washington Post


Task Force to Recommend Overhaul of U.S. Immigration System


By Spencer S. Hsu

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, July 8, 2009 12:10 AM


A bipartisan task force will recommend today that the United States overhaul its immigration system in response to national security concerns, saying that the country should end strict quotas on work-based immigrant visas to maintain its scientific, technological and military edge.

"The continued failure to devise and implement a sound and sustainable immigration policy threatens to weaken America's economy, to jeopardize its diplomacy, and to imperil its national security," concluded an independent Council on Foreign Relations panel, co-chaired by former Florida governor Jeb Bush (R) and former Clinton White House chief of staff Thomas V. "Mack" McLarty III.

The report comes as President Obama and Congressional Democrats say they expect to begin debate on a comprehensive immigration plan within a year. But key Republicans -- including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the 2008 Republican presidential nominee and co-sponsor of previous overhaul legislation -- have said a plan must include expanding temporary-worker programs. […]


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US Senate backs permanent immigration check program


Wed Jul 8, 2009 3:27pm EDT


By Jeremy Pelofsky


WASHINGTON, July 8 (Reuters) - The Senate on Wednesday agreed to permanently adopt a program for verifying the immigration status of those seeking work in the United States, previewing what could be a fight over revamping the troubled immigration system this year.


The Senate agreed to make permanent the voluntary "E-Verify" program as part of a $42.9 billion bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security for fiscal 2010.


The Obama administration had sought only a two-year extension of the program, which uses Social Security numbers and immigration records to verify immigration status. […]



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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Immigrant Rights News - Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Immigrant Rights News – Tuesday, July 07, 2009


1. TruthOut: Criminals because we worked

2. Arizona Republic: Hispanic males are now majority in county jails

3. New York Times: Piecing Together an Immigrant’s Life the U.S. Refused to See

4. Arizona Republic [blog]: When migrants' dreams become nightmares



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Criminals because we worked


Saturday 20 June 2009


by: David Bacon, t r u t h o u t | Report


Vernon, California - The production lines at Overhill Farms move very quickly. Every day, for 18 years, Bohemia Agustiano stood in front of the "banda" for eight or nine hours, putting pieces of frozen chicken, rice and vegetables onto plates as they passed in a blur before her. Making the same motions over and over for such a long time, her feet in one place on the concrete floor, had its price. Pains began shooting through her hands and wrists, up her arms to her shoulders.


Complaining also had a price, however. "I was reluctant to say anything because of my need," she says. "I have four children. So I preferred to stay hurt, and take pills for it, than to go out on disability." Finally, though, it got too much. She couldn't sleep without pain constantly waking her, and she was moving through a haze of exhaustion. So, she went to the company doctor.


"He said my nerves were inflamed, and sent me to therapy," she recalls. "I know I have repetitive stress syndrome, but I asked him not to put me on restricted duty, because I knew the company would just send me home. There is no easy work in production. But he put me on restrictions anyway, and that's what happened. It didn't change anything, and eventually I had to go back to my job. It still hurts to work."


It might seem hard to understand that a job like this is worth trying to keep. But being out of work is worse. So every day, Agustiano and 253 others are out in front of Overhill Farms' two plants on East Vernon Avenue, in an industrial enclave in southeast Los Angeles, trying to fight their way back onto those speeding production lines.


The company says Agustiano's Social Security number is no good. That accusation, and the mass firings based on it, has put these 254 workers, mostly women, at the epicenter of the national debate over the nation's immigration laws. Overhill Farms and the advocates of immigration enforcement in the workplace claim the workers shouldn't be at work at all. Hiring people without legal immigration status is a crime, they say, and those suspected of the lack of such status should be fired. […]



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Arizona Republic


Hispanic males are now majority in county jails


by JJ Hensley - Jul. 7, 2009 12:00 AM

The Arizona Republic


There's a shift under way in the Maricopa County jails.


The population of White male inmates, after growing steadily for more than a decade, has dropped in the past five years, while the population of Hispanic male inmates has increased to the point that they make up the ethnic majority, according Sheriff's Office data.


Experts say the explanation for the increase is largely due to overall population trends coupled with a series of recent laws and policy decisions targeting illegal immigrants.


The majority of Hispanics in county jails are not in the country illegally. However, most of the illegal immigrants jailed as a result of immigration-enforcement efforts are Latino. […]



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New York Times


Piecing Together an Immigrant?s Life the U.S. Refused to See


By: Nina Bernstein

July 5, 2009


When the 43-year-old man died in a New Jersey immigration jail in 2005, the very fact seemed to fall into a black hole. Although a fellow inmate scrawled a note telling immigrant advocates that the detainee's symptoms of a heart attack had long gone unheeded, government officials would not even confirm that the dead man had existed.


In March, more than three years after the death, federal immigration authorities acknowledged that they had overlooked it, and added a name, "Ahmad, Tanveer," to their list of fatalities in custody.


Even as the man's death was retrieved from official oblivion, however, his life remained a mystery, The New York Times reported in an April article on the case that pointed up the secrecy and lack of accountability in the nation's ballooning immigration detention system. Just who the man was and why he had been detained were unknown. […]



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